Commitment to community: our contribution to South Africa’s Sithabile Child and Youth Care Centre

Having recently established offices in South Africa, Commit Works is also dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged locals in the area.

We are honoured to support Sithabile Child and Youth Care Centre in Benoni near Johannesburg. The drop-in facility is a safe harbour for children who have suffered abuse, exploitation and neglect, providing them with food, rehabilitation, care and educational opportunities. It cares for around 80 children from the farms, informal settlements and streets of Eastern Gauteng in South Africa.

“As an Australian company working in South Africa, we have a wonderful opportunity to connect with and contribute to the community there,” said Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh, whose daughter Abbey recently spent two weeks volunteering at Sithabile. “It means a lot to us to be able to support an organisation that is doing such vital work, and our involvement also helps us to learn about South African life and culture.”

Run by a husband-and-wife team, Sithabile was established in 1994 to rehabilitate and educate children from the farms in the area. Until 1997, it operated as a daycare centre but it has since expanded into a home where children are supported and loved, as well as provided with meals, shelter and an education.

One of the primary functions of the facility is to provide a balanced diet to the children in its care in order to counter the effects of malnutrition. A vegetable garden, chickens and other farm animals help educate the children on how to grow their own food, as well as providing fresh eggs and vegetables for their meals.

Sithabile is a nonprofit, non-governmental organisation that depends solely on donations and sponsorships. They appreciate any offer of help – visit their brand new website (developed and created by the Commit Works team) for details on how to donate.

 Sithabile sithabile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mining Software - Integrated Mine Planning Software

Fragmented frontline mining technology leaves mines short

Seeing the whole: systems that only focus on a segment of your operation can’t deliver top quartile results

Lifting performance and productivity in a mining operation is no small task. Mines are complex, and require an extremely high level of planning, scheduling, coordination and reporting if they’re to run as well as possible.

Across all industries, software companies are promising to transform efficiency levels and boost profits. In mining, the sheer scale of operations can make the task of finding smart, resilient and effective solutions daunting to say the least. Added to this, most mines are already dealing with legacy systems that are failing or limping along with unsatisfactory results.

Investment in technology that delivers results is crucial if mines are to compete and remain profitable – the good news is that technological advances are giving us unprecedented opportunities to improve operations. But not all solutions are created equal.

Consider all the moving parts and processes in a mining operation… production, maintenance of equipment, projects, geology, survey, rehab, safety and hazard management and reporting and analysis. And then there are people too: planners, schedulers, coordinators, control room personnel, site supervisors, operators and tradespeople.

This diagram is an attempt to capture this complexity and the lack of connection between the various solutions available today.

Any mining software that hopes to significantly improve the coordination and performance of a mining operation needs to consider all of these parts of the process and make it easier for the people on site to see reality, make plans and execute on them.

While many mining software suites perform well in their specific areas of influence (such as operational planning, maintenance, reporting, fleet management, safety monitoring, or analytics) there are no software or technology firms that can provide an end to end solution that connects mine plans to all the work performed to deliver the plan at the frontline.

So what’s the best approach? Should you pay a software developer or outsourcer to build customised software that works around your mine’s current systems? Or start from scratch with an integrated provider of planning software? Or would a MOS consulting firm do a better job of streamlining the management of your mining operation?

Recent examples have sought to “mash up” a number of the “point solutions” into an integrated whole, kindly assisted by “smartest people in the room” consultants. These “technology / innovation projects” have really struggled to deliver tools that the guys at the frontline actually use, the way they were intended to. Basically, because it’s really hard to get busy software companies to adapt and integrate their solutions to meet this need, change management can be forgotten and at the same time technology and innovation projects seldom have the hard-operational edge they need to deliver results for the site. These issues lead to poor adoption and mean that the expected benefits aren’t delivered.

So, it pays to avoid these kinds of mistakes, but how?

An approach that is paying handsome dividends for those that have invested in it is to ensure that everyone on site has a well-coordinated and easy to understand plan each shift, that this shift plan is visible to everyone (so that they are all on the same page) and that actual results and shift reports can be fed into it to facilitate the plan, do, check, act improvement cycle. This approach is making it possible for mine sites to (for the first time) do effective integrated planning and short interval control. This has resulted in massive improvements in the coordination of work on site, reduces waste and delivers upward of 40% improvements in production or development results.

The only holistic solution – Fewzion Frontline Planning Software

Commit Works is the only software provider of a comprehensive, fully integrated frontline planning and scheduling system (Fewzion) that works with a short interval control app and visualisation software (Visual Ops) to give a complete picture of mining operations, every day, every shift.

From monthly scheduling of personnel and resources all the way through to the most granular task-based details of a single shift, our mining software allows management to see their operations clearly and make better decisions, whilst empowering frontline teams to get the job done more efficiently and safely.

We have delivered massive production and safety improvements for some of the world’s largest mining companies. Our easy-to-use, complete solution has:

  • helped large miners and small contractors to deliver 25 to 50 percent improvements in performance less than three months after implementation on site.
  • And, enabled many mines to sustain their results for over four years, through successive management teams and ownership.

Want to hear more about about our mining software and how we’re making mines work better? Get in touch.

 

Jhon Ansley - Commit Works COO

John Ansley New COO

Global technology leader John Ansley joins Commit Works as Chief Operating Officer

Leading mining technology company Commit Works announced today that it has appointed John Ansley as its new Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Joining Commit Works is a natural progression for Ansley, who has a deep understanding of the information technology (IT) landscape and a background in chief information officer (CIO) roles across the mining, logistics and pharmaceuticals industries in Australia, the United States, South America, Asia Pacific, Europe and South Africa. As Commit Works COO, he is enthusiastic about the opportunity to work at the leading edge of tech for the mining industry and beyond, as Commit Works pioneers a new standard in frontline planning, short interval control and site visualisation.

“Commit Works products solve the ‘last mile’ of technology, from enterprise systems right down to the tasks within a shift,” Ansley said. “Unlike many IT solutions, Commit Works has a fast return on investment, with a clear and measurable impact on key elements for companies – such as employee engagement, improved planning, and increases in productivity and safety.”

“The Commit Works team is also 100 percent focused on the success of its customers, which makes it a company I’m keen to work with.”

Ansley’s extensive international experience spans a diverse range of industries, and includes chief information officer (CIO) roles, advisory roles, business development, strategic consulting, digital transformation programs, creating new international information communication technology (ICT) organisations, and developing and managing large project teams.

He joins Commit Works at an exciting time, as the company expands in the wake of a strategic investment from Jolimont Global Mining Systems (Jolimont), which will accelerate its growth in Australia and internationally. “The appointment of John Ansley strengthens the Commit Works team in line with Jolimont’s commitment to the growth of the company. Having a world class team enables acceleration of the application of the world leading Commit Works technology, which benefits the industry.” said Lyle Bruce, partner at Jolimont and newly appointed Commit Works board member.

Andy Greig, Commit Works board member (the former President of Bechtel’s Mining & Metals Global Business and founder of Brisbane startup incubator, ACAC Innovation) said, “I am delighted John has joined the team. He is a talented executive with a great experience mix for his new role. He and CEO Paul Moynagh will complement each other very well.”

Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh said that John would be an important asset for the team: “The breadth of his understanding and expertise will strengthen our business as we continue to develop our products and our reach.”

About Commit Works

Commit Works believes that successful organisations are built by people who make commitments to each other and deliver on them. Doing this consistently improves productivity, builds trust and helps frontline teams to out-plan uncertainty.

Its first product, Fewzion, was developed in collaboration with Anglo American to replace the cluster of whiteboards and spreadsheets traditionally used to prepare shift plans on site. A mobile app allowing real-time tracking of shifts connects to Fewzion, so that progress is regularly measured against plans.

Commit Works again worked with Anglo American to develop their Visual Opsproduct, which improves site safety and productivity. Visual Ops displays the near-real-time location of hazards, people and equipment on an operation. It is integrated with Fewzion as a holistic, easy-to-use solution for frontline teams, instantly synchronising information across devices, so that teams are always on the same page.

These unique innovations have delivered results beyond expectations, creating safer workplaces, streamlining projects, achieving record-breaking tonnages and empowering workers.

www.commit.works

For all sales, partner or media inquiries please contact Emelia Chalker – Marketing and Communications Manager:  emelia.chalker@commit.works (0414 652 637).

Integrated Mine Planning and scheduling software

Mining goes mobile

Commit Works features in CIM Magazine, article reposted here:

Applications to modernize mapping, monitoring and mine management

Mobile technology is ubiquitous today. Seventy-six per cent of Canadian adults owned a smartphone in 2016, according to Statistics Canada, and 54 per cent owned a tablet or e-reader. The numbers are virtually identical in the United States. It is no surprise, then, that mobile devices are changing how people work, even in industries as conservative – and as operationally challenging – as mining.

A handful of companies have begun taking advantage of the new technology space. The mobile applications they offer vary in focus, but each aims to help miners get better visibility, make better decisions and improve the efficiency and productivity of their operations – all at prices far below traditional enterprise-level software. That fact promises to help level the technological playing field between large and small operators.

If you know where you are…

Takor Group is an Australian geospatial technology startup. Their primary product, Mappt, is a low-cost, offline-capable mobile geographic information system (GIS) application. Users record data and photos against geographic locations, such as the position of a drillhole, using configurable forms. “It can pop up questions one by one, and as they’re answered, it jumps to the next question,” said Takor product manager Ciarán Doyle. “In the background, it’s saving all that information against that location.” Users can create geofenced inclusion or exclusion zones, defining them either ahead of time or by walking or driving the perimeter. “The app addresses quite a few of the pain points that field collectors were feeling,” said Doyle.

“The massive time savings” of collecting data digitally, rather than manually with a physical map and pen and paper, is a major selling point, said Doyle, brand and strategy at Takor, as is having all the tools you need in one device. And, he said, “The quality of data has shot through the roof.”

It is also a fit-for-purpose solution, like many of the apps available for mining. “One of the reasons that Mappt came about was due to the frustration of using ArcGIS and their mobile application,” said Doyle. “It’s quite extensive and extremely hard to use and to set up. You couldn’t just go out in the field with a professional tool without spending thousands of dollars, and there’s a massive process involved.” With Mappt, he said, a user can go straight from purchasing the product to being in the field in “literally minutes.”Mappt

Mappt, a mobile GIS app by the tech startup Takor, was designed to be low-cost and user friendly. Courtesy of Takor Group

Chris Devlin, director at iSpatial Solutions, a GIS consultancy which acts as “effectively, the in-house GIS department” for a number of small mining companies, often recommends Mappt to clients. “They like it not only for the functionality and the ease of use but also for the licensing model,” he said. “It’s simple and cost-effective.”

…you can plan where you’re going

MST Global’s Field Analysis & Reporting Application (FARA) uses Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and a mobile app to provide fleet and personnel management to underground and open-pit operations. Sean Dessureault, now chief innovation evangelist at MST, developed FARA at his company, MISOM Technologies, before selling MISOM to MST in late 2017.


RELATED:TRANSITIONING FROM INFORMATION OVERLOAD TO EFFICIENT OPERATION WITH SHORT INTERVAL CONTROL


“Our tablet for fleet management can be installed in a machine in a few minutes,” Dessureault said, and even temporarily in contractor vehicles. The tablets determine their position using GPS or by sensing small, $30 Bluetooth beacons that can be placed around the site – even underground. That location information can be used by the application to automatically track cycles, sequences and even delays and can be leveraged to prompt users for input using location-based triggers. Operators also use the app to fill in digitized forms for things like hazard assessments and pre-operational checklists. Tablet-to-tablet communication means that a supervisor can approach a vehicle and view the forms the driver has filled out, even without Wi-Fi or LTE infrastructure.

“From the operator feedback, they like the digital forms the best. It saves time, and they find the information more engaging,” said Dessureault – especially when the feedback is gamified, as FARA can be configured to be. Employees earn points on a leaderboard for the number of cycles they complete or for providing a good safety share, for example. Shift changes can be improved by rewarding operators for getting on their machine before a certain time. Before, Dessureault said, “even if you did write an excellent safety share during your take-five, nobody would ever really know. Miners love having that feedback. They love to compete.”

The sudden availability of inexpensive apps and consumer-grade electronic devices has spurred some operators to adopt systems like this for the first time. “Some of our installs were in places that have never had fleet management before,” said Dessureault, “so productivity increased significantly.”

Put down the clipboard

For other operators, however, mobile technology may augment existing information management systems and make a technician’s job easier.

Canary Systems’ MLWeb is one such data management system. It aggregates and correlates data from various third-party instrumentation and sensors, data loggers, radars and satellites to provide risk management for projects in numerous industries, including mining, construction and dams. The mobile portion of Canary’s software suite is the data collection tool MLField.

“MLField has been designed to support users in cases where they don’t have automated instrumentation,” said Martin van Balkom, marketing manager at Canary Systems. “A technician would like to go into the field and, for example, go to a piezometer and take a manual reading.”


RELATED: THE BANDWIDTH BACKBONE


“There are still cases where people take the readings manually” with pen and paper, added Andrei Pascu, Canary’s Canadian group manager. “Going back to the office, those readings are transcribed into the system or into Excel.” Using the app to collect data, he said, is both faster and more reliable – previous readings are shown, helping catch entry errors, and the tablet automatically syncs to the project database once online again, eliminating transcription errors.

“One of the advantages of tying this all together is the speed with which you can now manage the risk of this operation,” said van Balkom. “We have a dam client in the U.S. where their data collection in the field, from the time it was collected until the engineer saw it, took about 2 months. That’s basically historical data at that point.” Even engineers used to getting instrumentation readings 12 to 24 hours after collection could benefit from the increased visibility that digital methods enable.

BME, a South Africa-based blasting company, offers XploLog, which like MLField, is primarily for collecting data in the field. XploLog’s data syncs back to BME’s blasting design database, BlastMap.

“As the users are logging into the XploLog system the actual loading and timing of what’s going on in the field, that information is being sent directly back to the office, so the people in the office are aware of any problem,” said BME managing director Joe Keenan. “They might get an alert saying three holes have collapsed, so they can talk about the best workaround. Or they can just log it into the system so the actual design is recorded in the database.”

“It increases productivity, but it also reduces the surprises. These tools give you the ability to see the problem before it becomes the problem,” said Keenan. Before using the mobile app to record blast data, he added, “it was paper reports or word of mouth. And it was a very imperfect system, I assure you.”

Bring your plan to work with you

Eliminating paper from the field makes life simpler for both planners and supervisors. Fewzion is a work management system from Commit Works, which enables short interval control (SIC) on mobile devices in the field. All work on site can be pulled in from source planning systems such as Xact, Surpac, Deswik, SAP, spreadsheets etc., as well as inspections, equipment servicing, training, site development work and the actual production work. It is then planned and can be tracked in short chunks to ensure people can react to problems early enough to reliably hit their targets.

“It contains all the work and targets that planners from each department have agreed to, alongside detailed tasks that crews and supervisors think need to be done for the whole site,” said Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh. “Then the team can start making some trade-offs to land on a plan that is achievable for each shift.” By making everything visible to the whole team, detailed planning can take place between silos, allowing everybody to understand and commit to a well-coordinated, holistic plan for the operation.

Moynagh notes that at many sites, supervisors still drive around with stacks of paper detailing the week’s work in production targets, Gantt charts, mud maps and even photos of the whiteboard from the production meeting. “If you see these massive piles of paper, you understand why it’s very difficult to find the information supervisors need or get good decision-making out of that kind of data,” said Moynagh. The mobile portion of Fewzion provides an organized, offline-capable digital view of everything in the system. “A phone or tablet is far more convenient to carry around. And if they’re out in the field and see something that needs to be done, they can create a task and suggest a time for it,” he added. That task will be synchronized across the whole Fewzion system once the device is online. “Add to our new mapping system (visual ops) and all work can be seen on a map next to the machines and people that will be doing it and any of the hazards that they might encounter.”

Users of Fewzion have seen 30 to 50 per cent increases in production after implementation, according to Moynagh. “A lot of the things that used to get in the way, a lot of the annoying waste, now gets planned out before it happens,” he said. “All the things that were causing them trouble, which are very hard to pinpoint, just start to disappear with a well-thought-out frontline plan that everyone can see and agree on.”

More than mere technology

In true Silicon Valley style, several of the app makers pride themselves as disruptors with a higher purpose. “Most tier ones would never pay $1,000 for something they could buy for $20,000,” said MST’s Dessureault, only half-jokingly. “Our price point is so low, we can open up the quarry market, the small-to-medium size mines.”

“The big thing for us is the democratization of technology,” agreed Doyle of Takor Group. “We’re reducing or removing possible barriers to entry for people to benefit from technology. Being able to run the app on a cheap Android device and basically have an enterprise-level tool at a bargain basement price, that’s what we want.”

Short Interval control system

Pathways to a Mine that is in Short Term Interval Control

A few nights ago I had a call with Leon Cosgrove from Wipro about short interval control. We discussed the different ways miners can go to improve performance in their operations. Perhaps it was because we’re both involved in the consulting industry but somehow a 2 by 2 matrix appeared as we spoke. See below, we both thought it was helpful for describing the journey to a high performing operation.

On the Y Axis is the extent to which the mine can measure and see where all their equipment is and what it is doing. There is a big range of technologies here but to keep it simple these range from sites with no way of knowing where anything is or what it is doing through truck counts and radio based tools like PitRam up to high precision fleet management systems like Modular, Newtrax or MobileARIS. Telematics and measurement are one thing but getting the data out of the pit is equally challenging, again simplifying terribly, technologies used range from nothing to radios, to leaky feeder to wifi and daisy chaining to LTE.

On the X Axis is the extent to which the mine is planning and scheduling frontline operational work. On the left are operations that believe that a good mining schedule and perhaps a maintenance plan are able to be simply handed down to the operation to execute. On the right are the operations who have the frontline management systems and behaviours necessary to describe in short intervals what needs to be done each shift for everyone on the site. These operations engage religiously in the Plan Do Check Act cycle and use variances from the plan each shift, day and week to drive performance improvements continuously.

Short Interval control

Three routes to high performance

With the matrix above it was interesting to think through the different routes to becoming a high performer, we came up with three options.

1.Technology first. Many operations have invested heavily in connectivity and fleet management systems that tell them where alShort Interval Controll their machines are and exactly what is happening. When these operations want to move towards the high performer quartile they have lots of high quality data but they still need to break their silos and perform short interval, integrated planning and scheduling.

2. Management first. Traditional management operating system (MOS) consultants have done huge numbers of projects with miners getting them to improve their frontline management planning and coordination. Short interval control is a tool often implemented during these projects. However, without an easy to use and integrated frontline planning and short interval control system (most of these consultants still sell spreadsheets and whiteboards) the mature management behaviours they have implemented are very hard to sustain. Operations that use these old fashioned MOS “systems” are very difficult to move into the “High performer” quartile in a sustainable way as the tools often break when the consultants leave.

3. Management and Technology together. The most direct route to the High performer quartile is by integrating mature management practices with mature technology. This way the behaviours of the organisation can be directly supported by and embedded in the way the technology works. Critical to this transition is the use of a fully integrated frontline planning and short interval control system that can connect the enterprise planning systems to the operational technology that runs the mine. Done well this type of project uses mature management consultants to improve management practices while the technologists wire the system together to support mature management behaviours. This approach delivers rapid and sustainable results for much lower cost than option 1 or 2.

Commit Works has been working with some of the largest and the smartest miners in the world to deliver massive production and safety improvements.

Our fully integrated frontline planning, scheduling and short interval control system, Fewzion, has helped miners deliver 25% to 50% improvements in performance in less than 3 months from the start of implementation on site. Many of these sites have sustained their results for over 4 years through successive changes in management and ownership.

To find out more contact us at www.commit.works or call 1300 33 99 46

 

Shift planning software for mining

Shift Planning Software for Mining – All your planning in one place, for everyone

The power of one plan

We all know that knowledge is power. So why keep teams in the dark when it comes to complex operations?

Everyone’s got a job to do

When there are lots of people working on different aspects of a project, although they may be working independently or in different locations, the work of one team affects the work of others.

Poor planning and coordination can lead to costly inefficiencies, mistakes and delays. Conversely, great planning and coordination optimises communication, builds trust and commitment, and has the power to revolutionise productivity.

So, get everyone on the same page using our Shift Planning Software or Mining

An excellent frontline planning system is one that:

  • provides a single, integrated view of what’s planned for everyone on site – daily and weekly
  • shows targets that can be adjusted based on how a project is progressing
  • details the commitments made by each team and shows when those commitments are delivered on
  • is visible to everyone working on a project, in a format that’s easy to use and understand
  • is cloud-based, accessible on mobile and enables real-time updates.

Our Fewzion  – Shift Planning Software does all of this. It replaces spreadsheets and cumbersome IT systems with a single plan. It integrates all your core IT systems, connecting scheduling, planning, maintenance, HR, ERP and site safety. Plans and progress can be seen by everyone – teams, supervisors and managers – in real time. Its “shadow tasks” feature ensures that cross-functional tasks are visible to all teams, so everyone understands the plan and their role in delivering it.

Expect big results

A single, integrated plan revolutionises operations by:

  • enabling collaboration across different project teams
  • empowering frontline workers to set goals, track progress and meet commitments
  • facilitating trust and accountability.

Our clients regularly increase production by over 30% within two months of implementing Fewzion. They attribute their success to better organisation and teamwork.

When your teams are truly committed to delivering scheduled work and can see their results and progress, you boost productivity and strengthen your business. Give your people the gift of the big picture; when everyone sees clearly, they work better together.

mining Software

The power of planning

It’s not difficult to understand the connection between poor planning and poor results. A lack of coordination on site due to insufficient planning causes unnecessary delays, wasted time and rework. This leads to compromised production levels and budget setbacks.

Good planning involves commitments from multiple teams to deliver work on time and within allocated budgets. That’s why we at Commit Works developed our Fewzion product: to facilitate and track commitment-based planning.

Proven production increases

How soon after implementing Fewzion can you expect to see production improvements on your operation? You may be surprised: our clients regularly increase production by over 30% within two short months of using Fewzion. They attribute their success to better organisation and teamwork.

Just ask our client Anglo American, who recently posted a 4% year-on-year increase in total production in their first quarter this year. Owing to continuing strong performance at the Moranbah mine and the ramp-up of the Grosvenor mine – both of which use Fewzion software solutions – metallurgical coal increased production by 6% to 5.5-million tonnes.

Anglo American sites in South Africa, Zibulo and Greenside colliers (who also use Fewzion)  improved productivity for the quarter.

Anglo American’s improved performance in Australia and South Africa reinforces the enormous value of powerful planning software.

Overhauling frontline planning and coordination has been the key to breaking through performance barriers and boosting efficiency for our other clients too. Over the past five years, while the market has seen a 21% rise in production, Commit Works clients have stormed ahead with an average 74% improvement in production.

Find out more about Fewzion

Fewzion is a frontline planning system that:

  • provides a single, integrated view of what’s planned for everyone on site – daily and weekly
  • shows targets that can be adjusted based on how a project is progressing
  • details the commitments made by each team, and shows when those commitments are delivered on
  • is visible to everyone working on a project, in a format that’s easy to use and understand
  • is cloud-based, accessible on mobile and enables real-time updates.

 

Ready to see how Fewzion can boost results for your operation? Contact Commit Works today to arrange a demo

Mining Software

Beyond the downturn: new priorities in Australian mining

Mining Software

2018 sees the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector in Australia emerging from the downturn and reassessing its approach to the future.

With market conditions improving, confidence has begun to return to the sector but commodity prices are still marked by fluctuation. How should mining companies approach this new era?

These are the key, interrelated ideas around which the future of mining is developing:

  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Technology

Commit Works is operating at the nexus of these priorities, delivering software solutions that grow with the industry and facilitate better collaboration on mining operations.

Collaboration

The value of collaboration in mining has gone largely untapped in an industry that’s known for its silos and secrecy.

Mining’s recent tough years taught companies that better cooperation in the workforce is crucial to improving efficiency and productivity, not to mention safety on site.

Collaboration across and outside of the sector is also a rising trend, with the resources industry building relationships with software developers, technical specialists, strategic thinkers and others. The role of diversified knowledge and new perspectives has been recognised in the bid to transform the METS industry and guarantee its future survival.

Innovation

Innovation was a focus for the industry during the downturn, as businesses fought to survive. In the wake of that challenging period, it’s become clear that innovation is now a constant consideration. The world is changing fast, driven by rapid technological advances and volatile markets; “innovation” is the shorthand for all of the ways in which companies can stay relevant and competitive.

Technology

The upswing in the market has meant that more companies can invest in technology – digitisation is now happening across all levels of business. These investments are seeing improvements in equipment capabilities, workforce management, safety and efficiency, as companies benefit from mobile technology, cloud computing, automation, real-time reporting and big data.

Short Interval control app

The three ingredients of a Short Interval Control (SIC) sandwich

The team at Commit Works have been implementing Short Interval Control (SIC) systems for over 20 years in mines, workshops, factories and even an insurance company.

The central idea behind SIC is that when supervisors are more AWARE of how their process is performing during the shift, then they will be able to ACT to keep the process on course to hit its target each shift.

This is a simple idea, right? All you do is get supervisors to check at regular intervals throughout their shift if they are on target and to act to improve the situation if they find they are off track. In reality, however, the success of SIC depends on multiple factors.

What’s in the Short Interval Control sandwich?

Whether it’s mining or another industry, there are three key ingredients that go into Short Interval Control – we call it the SIC sandwich.

  • The top piece of bread should be an agreed and a realistic frontline plan for all work that the supervisor is responsible for.
  • In the centre (the filling) is the tool supervisors or crew use to record (in short intervals) whether they are on track or not.
  • On the bottom is the method for knowing how much ore, cubic metres, drill metres, work orders, widgets or insurance claims have been moved or completed at points throughout the shift.

Each of these elements makes the supervisor more AWARE of the performance of their process compared to the agreed plan for the shift. Given this awareness, the supervisor must then ACT appropriately to bring the process back into control and ideally describe what actions they took in a shift report.

The top of the SIC sandwich is the frontline planning and scheduling (or work management) system, which takes plans from systems like SAP, Deswik, Xact, MS Project, rosters, and leave and service schedules and makes them into a coordinated plan that can be committed to and executed on the shift. In most operations this is done via spreadsheets and whiteboards.

The centre (sandwich filling) has, for a long time, been A3 sheets of paper for supervisors to complete at two- or three-hourly intervals during a shift. In general, supervisors dislike these tools with a passion and seldom complete them properly or sustain them after consultants have left. More recently, some major mining firms have attempted to build software tools that supervisors can use in the field. These have been fraught with usability and connection issues, which have prevented most of them from being successful.

The bread on the bottom used to be provided through paper truck counts or radio calls but, more recently, has relied on fleet management systems (FMS) to give up-to-date information about the measurable raw tonnes, metres, cubic metres etc. coming off each machine. To be successful, the data needs to get from machines to the supervisor quickly. In a small opencast mine this can be achieved by the supervisor standing on the highwall observing operations; in a complex underground mine it could require a well-designed system of sensors, tags and communications infrastructure.

Why most Short Interval Control sandwiches fail

In our experience, most SIC sandwiches don’t work because of weakness in the top two layers.

Without a reasonable and agreed shift plan, the crew doesn’t have realistic targets to aim for, so there is no point breaking those targets up into smaller intervals to track against. “But”, you say, “we have the weekly plan (from Deswik, EPS or Xact etc.) which sets the targets.” Dividing a weekly production plan target into 14 even shifts is a convenient and easy shortcut to take but is destined for failure because it doesn’t take into account the variability in the workplace (conditions, maintenance, sick leave etc.) that the supervisor has to cope with.

Dividing the week up into shifts without taking all the other work and conditions into account means the supervisor and crew will never have a plan that actually makes sense on their shift – some shifts will have low targets and others will have unachievable targets, there will be services or sequence work that needs to be done and machines will need to be maintained, making the plan impossible.

Send a crew to work over and over again with a plan that doesn’t make sense and it’s likely they will lose respect for the plan (and their leaders) and choose to do things their own way.

Making SIC work

The holy grail of SIC is to have a single system that enables you to bring all planning information into an integrated shift plan that can be agreed at weekly and daily commitment meetings. This plan can then be:

  • reviewed, adapted and committed to before the crew go to work
  • used to assign work to people
  • used to brief the crew at pre-starts/line-ups.

The same system can either print or deliver the plan to supervisors or crew on a phone or tablet at the face, and throughout the shift the work being done can be “closed off” in short intervals so that the control room, general foreman, shift boss, undermanager etc. and planners know that the right work is getting done.

This can integrate with fleet management systems to bring real-time data back to the supervisor through a tool, or regular radio calls can be made to check in on progress. At the end of shift, the supervisor and crew will have closed out most of the tasks and already written most of their shift report in the app, so a quick conversation around a touchscreen is enough to close out the shift.

All the data collected ends up in simple reports for use in daily review meetings to identify variances and plan corrective actions. This data is then available to business improvement people for analysis and continuous improvement work.

Commit Works has the only enterprise-quality system that makes this possible. It can be set up and implemented on your site in a matter of weeks and fits easily into operational expense budgets.

Global examples

Anglo Dawson OC, whiteboard daily planning meeting to set targets for the shift, paper based A3 SIC sheets, radio calls to each machine and supervisor at 3 hour intervals to say whether they were on plan or not.

Glencore Sudbury, UG Nickel mine planning development sequence work and tracking actuals from the face using an offline app.

Rio Kestrel, Fewzion work management planning system, crib room PC for entering actuals data, view of SCADA system and work orders from trades to tell how shift was progressing.

Anglo, Zibulo – Fewzion work management system, underground WiFi phones with a Fewzion SIC App to record actuals at the face.

Frontline Mining Software

Fewzion: Power in simplicity

Designed to solve a common problem

Commit Works initially developed its Fewzion product to overcome obstacles to productivity in an underground coal mine in Queensland.

“The planning spreadsheets and whiteboards that were limping along in the mine were simply not up to the task,” recalls Commit Works CEO Paul Moynagh. “They wasted a lot of people’s time (time that was better spent underground), they were hard to manage, the macros broke all the time, and it was impossible to see what other planners were planning or even whether the plan was getting done.”

These problems were not unique to this mine – issues around monitoring KPIs, crews and their equipment from shift to shift are widespread. While good long-term planning tools exist, there was a gap in the market for reliably managing short interval control (SIC) and dealing with inevitable changes and challenges that arise on site on a daily basis.

Visibility and accountability

Fewzion replaces spreadsheets and whiteboards with a comprehensive online shift-planning system that is visible to all teams. It focuses on putting the plan in the hands of crew supervisors every shift, so that they become accountable for delivering on the plan.

Fewzion’s short interval control captures data on shifts at two-hour intervals. This allows project managers, directors and team members to check performance and make adjustments to get back on track if something’s not going to plan. Problems can be picked up early and solved before they become more significant and costly.

Simplicity and ease of use

Moynagh believes that Fewzion’s power lies in its simplicity.

“The thing everyone mentions is how simple it is to use, and that it is easy to set up and doesn’t cost a lot,” he says. “It works through a browser and can be set up either in the cloud or on your servers.”

“People who can’t use computers can still use Fewzion – it’s iPad simple. In just two hours training coordinators, schedulers, planners and under-managers can be set up and ready to create and manage weekly plans and schedules.”